updated 04/10/2013 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/10/2013 AT 1:20 PM ET
Ryan Merriman worked hard on New Year’s Eve to make his proposal special. First he tried a tiki bar, but that wasn’t quite right. And then he tried out a New Zealand nightclub where it was far too loud.
Finally he headed to Auckland’s SkyCity and the harbor, where high above the water in an outdoor tower, as the New Year’s fireworks display was launched into the night skies, he finally summoned the nerve to ask for Kristen McMullen’s hand in marriage.
“I did it on the fly of the moment. Thank God it worked,” he told PEOPLE Tuesday at the premiere of his new film, the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 where he plays Brooklyn Dodgers right fielder Dixie Walker, in Hollywood. “She said ‘Yes.’ ”
“As soon as I gave her a kiss and proposed,” the actor, who also plays Ian on ABC Family’s hit Pretty Little Liars, continued, “the fireworks started going off. It was kind of like a movie.”
Now, with the preparations for the big day at hand, the Final Destination 3 star and Oklahoma native is mum on the details and date, saying he’s happily leaving the planning to his bride-to-be.
“You know it’s her day,” said Merriman. “I’d marry her on a beach. I don’t care. We could go to Vegas. But she’s a very classy one so … ‘If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ ”